the perks of a job you love

I have a zillion photo posts to write, and I purchased an app that lets me drop and drag photos directly into blog posts so I’m hoping that resolves everything. It’s a bit messy and not quite what I’d hoped, so please forgive the disjointed nature of this post, hopefully it will improve once I get the hang of it.

This post is from a recent work trip, but I am unclear on confidentiality so I am just going to say it is in China and leave it at that.

Driving to the site on the first day, I’d been awake for most of the past 48 hours and was stinky and sticky, because our luggage got separated from us and I hadn’t expected to be on the go for 48 hours. But there’s nothing like steep mountains and winding roads to get me excited, and fortunately, you can’t smell me in this picture.

Many of the roads are very narrow and in order to prepare for the site opening (and a million coaches a day), they are widening the roads by literally just drilling away at the mountain.

Rather them than me…

 

This site has everything I love. Intense mountains…

Weird insects

And beautiful buildings.

But this was just on the first quick trip to the base of the mountain. Time to go back to the hotel and try and remember what it’s like not to stink.

We made a trip to the local shopping mall after dinner to find non-stinky clothes to wear until our luggage reappeared. I encountered this smooth operator:

It was actually operated by his dad, by what looked like a playstation controller, which I thought was pretty cool. I really wanted a photo with the two of them together, but his parents didn’t understand when I asked them and kept moving *out* of the picture.

Everything was happening at the mall that night. A “rock gig” was blasting on a stage in the middle of the mall. View from inside the lift:

I guess the mall is really the place to be. The music was really terrible, but I think people came for the novelty as they were Westerners playing/singing. I was more entertained by this sign on the lift (yup, 14 years of Chinese and I’m still amused by Chinglish.

Which is the perfect segue back to the site:

 

Even though I find even little mountains like this one fun (opposite our clients’ office)…

 

It’s these kind of scenes that get me really excited.

It’s a steep climb up, but the medieval “site planners” made it even harder, by thoughtfully providing steps… what’s not to like about steps, you may ask?

Well, these steps are about 50cm high, and on a slant, which means you pretty much have to crawl up them. Very clever for a medieval fortress, strategically speaking.

With a Rosie-The-Rambling-Hiker for scale:

I had thought I would give it a try, when I first heard about these steps. But once I stood in front of them, apart from striking a pose, I didn’t even entertain the thought. I actually clambered up just one step and it was embarrassing enough, as I struggled whilst my workmates watched and laughed at me. It is exactly like being in the giants’ abandoned city in The Silver Chair (from the Narnia books).

Luckily, there’s a sneaky secret passage that leads around the back up to the top.

View from the top of the steps (taken whilst shakily gripping the side of the wall with one hand — photos do not do this steepness of this scenario justice).

At the top of the steps is a pass, and in the pass is a guard whose job is to stand there from 8am to 6pm and call down to people telling them not to climb up the steps. He also told us we weren’t allowed to go up through the pass as the steps weren’t ready, but we had to, as it’s our job to get to the top, so he had to anxiously stand aside and watch us head off up the hill.

At first it seemed ok, nothing to fret about.

A little slippery without the wooden walkway, but as long as you hold onto the rails it’s ok.

Large amounts of water were pouring down the side of the mountain, making the 500-year-old steps somewhat difficult to navigate.

After a while, the Ming-dynasty steps dissolve into Song (possibly older, Tang has been hinted at) pathways hacked into the mountainside. The walkways aren’t complete by any means, but they’re our best bet for actually progressing up the extremely steep path.

More terrifying scaffolding…

Finally we emerged onto walkable steps again, where we could admire more ruins from the late 16th century (and earlier).

Here we had work to do, so there aren’t as many fun pictures, until later, when we paused for a tea break at the archaeologists’ hut (incidentally probably some of the best tea I’ve ever drunk).

There’s a chicken coop up here, presumably for eggs and dinner… it’s hard work getting provisions up that mountain and the archaeologists live here most of the time, so I imagine some livestock is worth keeping.

There’s also some adorable dogs, which my workmates told me were just wee puppies last time they came in June, and now are rollicking teens. I don’t know if they’ll be allowed to stay once the site is open to the public… I hope so, they were just so fun and sweet.

We raced down the mountain as night fell. It was very atmospheric; I love this photo so much.

That’s it for beautiful site visit pictures. I snapped one last mountain out the window on the plane… I’m really looking forward to heading back next week, even though the project itself is quite stressful. I’m so lucky to get to work in such a gorgeous environment!! And in the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting to do lots of research and writing on Chinese archaeology and history, proving for the first time ever that my 2006 BA in Chinese art and archaeology was not a complete waste of time! Only took 9 years to come to fruition…

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biscottes!

No running? …I managed to hurt my foot. Plantar fasciitis. It’s ok, I will try again when I am back from China in September (!!). I can’t risk not being able to walk as I have a lot of hiking ahead of me.

In preparation for my trip, I tried to think of FODMAP-friendly stuff I could take with me. I wisely cut off my internet time-wasting websites for 24 hours this morning before I left the house, which meant when I got home at 8pm this evening, I couldn’t default to my slumped-in-front-of-my-laptop default (I use a Mac program called Self-Control, where you can set a blacklist of websites and then tell it how long you’re not allowed to access them for. It’s a life saver when working on essays).

So this evening, in the 2.5 hours I’ve been home, I:
– Washed and hung out laundry
– Made myself quesadillas for dinner
– Worked through 3 huge piles of washing up (some of it from the weekend-before-last)
– Baked FODMAP-friendly banana chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for my trip (I am not even going to pretend that they will last me longer than the flight, but that’s already a huge deal)
– Made biscottes (which the internet informs me are generally known as “Zwieback”” by English-speakers?). I was trying to think how I could transport low-FODMAPS bread to Guizhou (which is hot and humid) without it immediately going mouldy. I came up with the idea of turning a loaf of my favourite Alpine Sour Rye bread into biscottes, which as long as they’re sealed in an airtight box, should be ok. Dry rusks may not sound terribly appealing but they’ll be most welcome if my stomach gets upset from too many FODMAPs.

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In case anyone ever wondered about how to make biscottes — leave your bread out for about 24 hours so it can dry out as much as possible first, then put them in the oven at 150 C for an hour (I’m tempted to put “or two” as I saw online to put them in for 1.5 hours, or 100 C for 3 hours — but I put mine in for an hour and they were perfect, if somewhat brown for the lower rack).

doing things for me

My Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday went by so fast. I worked a lot and then went home and laid on the floor and ate and internetted.

But yesterday I did spend an hour colour-matching whilst listening to podcasts. Colour-matching is a skill that is quite valuable in art conservation, and I was advised by a conservator I met at the Plastics course to get some paint chips and some basic acrylics, and just practice getting my eye in, since I’m about to spend 6 months nowhere near a conservation lab. I thought this was brilliant advice as it’s quite affordable and easy to do at home.

I looked forward to getting into this for days and days; I ordered the paints online as a birthday gift to myself — nothing but the best for Rosie, I got Golden heavy acrylics in 8 colours (two of which are black and white, so the challenge is working from your very standard red, yellow, green, blue, brown and ochre). I found a cheap set of white porcelain dishes at the op-shop, for mixing my colours. I ordered Resene paint chips from New Zealand (and they are beautiful!). I bought paintbrushes and I even found this lovely wooden tray at the op-shop, for $5, which proudly proclaims itself as “Langva, Made in Denmark, Water Wine Spirit and Heat Proof”, so I could easily move my painting gear around in my tiny cramped flat.

Finally the day came where I could collect my paints, take them home and begin! I finished work at 7pm so I’m pretty proud of myself for giving it a go when I got home (AND doing laundry, worr check me out).

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It was really fun, for an hour, but then the reality of the artificial lighting under my desk lamp made me grumpy. You can get a colour to match just great under yellow light, but of course in white light it will look ridiculous.

I came home this evening and looked at the paints and was just too tired to bother. I hope that when work relents a little, and summer approaches, I will feel more enthusiastic. As it is, I’m heading to Guizhou in 4 days — Guizhou being the land of this…

guizhou

— and climbing up this mountain

hltmountain

to reach this ruined fort

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Sorry if the resolution is terrible, I’m updating from the “new” WordPress page instead of my usual old-fashioned one and I can’t check (really: can’t be bothered). Anyway, so that is part of my work these days, and I’m jolly excited about it, but I haven’t got much energy to do things for me. Must try harder.

Tomorrow maybe, I’ll succeed in doing something that isn’t work related!

the things i do for me

In the two+ months since I last updated (since Sydney) I:
– Interviewed and was selected for an amazing job
– Travelled to Hong Kong with said job
– Came back to Melbourne to cram for my next uni subject
– Travelled to the far-north-eastern-most point of Arnhem Land and spent a week in an Aboriginal arts centre
– Came back to Melbourne and did a course in conservation of plastics at Melbourne Museum
– Decorated my house in an attempt at procrastinating from uni assignments
– Thrashed out my assignments on Aboriginal art and finished uni for 2015 (much more to come in 2016 though)
– Started my new job in earnest.

But whilst all of the above would make fascinating blog posts, complete with interesting and/or beautiful photos and maybe even some meaningful reflections on art and culture…

…I’m posting now because I am needing to do the whole “today I did this for me” thing again to help me stay positive as I adapt to working very-much-full-time again and try not to lapse back into fatigue. Not very interesting for other people but very much a coping strategy for me!

SO this weekend:
– I got up early on Saturday and cleaned and tidied my house, ran down to Coles to pick up the groceries I pre-ordered online to avoid buying anything that wasn’t FODMAP-friendly (this strategy works wonders for me)
– Met with my new Chinese friend Rinny to smash out 6 (yes SIX) hours of Chinese conversation practice (the new job requires me to be able to talk about archaeology and Chinese history and UNESCO with fluency — isn’t that marvellous?)
– Watched 10 Things I Hate About You
– Read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (a wonderful hommage to The Jungle Book!)
– Failed to get to Bikram on Sunday morning, due to staying up late reading the above (I have lapsed in my Bikram practice and been maybe twice in three weeks, due to intermittent fatigue + working again being a bit much to combine, but I’m confident I’ll be back soon).
– Met my friend Kerry to see Trainwreck at the cinema (loved it)
– Came home and napped (I’ve been told to schedule naps in the day and not feel bad about it, and you know what, it’s so liberating!)
– Cooked low-FODMAPs coq au vin and ragu for the week’s lunches (plus a ton of white rice and hard-boiled eggs) (and can I just say that coq au vin is out of this world delicious for a low-FODMAPs recipe A+++).

Now it’s 9:30pm and time to wind things up for bed. Goals for the week:

– No panicking
– Practice Chinese every night (and not lazy writing or reading, proper speaking and listening!)
– Whether you think you can, or you think can’t, you’re right… so Rosie, know that you can.
– Maybe squeeze in a Bikram class.